"It is an intense, team-oriented, creative space where people are driven to create high-quality products. Studios are focused areas, and unfortunately in the case of the classroom, they may be too much so. In our splintered systems where kids need to 'cover' hundreds of outcomes in a single school year, the studio may provide too much depth and not enough breadth to make legislators happy. Make no mistake about it, kids can focus and be creative for long periods of time if they are working on issues they are concerned with and about."So here you've got a motivated, innovative teacher who wants to let kids focus on the stuff that matters to them...but is finding it at odds with the goals of the system. I love the studio metaphor, and you could add others as well: lab, workshop or any other place where you learn the things you need to know in order to actually do something of value, to accomplish a goal you care about.
Perhaps this is the real model for the personal learning environment -- an organizing concept for an individual's physical and digital spaces containing the physical and virtual tools they will need to accomplish their goals. In an educational mindset, we might think the learning itself is the important thing, but really we're talking about doing, with learning as something that happens in the process of pursuing meaningful goals. Sometimes learning for its own sake could be the goal, but I suspect that most people aren't motivated in that way. Working on projects, creating new things, solving difficult problems -- these all require learning, but if I could accomplish those things without learning anything, I'd still do them, as long as the projects and problems were worth spending time and energy on.
This wouldn't interest me quite so much if I wasn't immersed in the idea of learning goals. I'm studying explicit learning goals in 43 Things, goals like "I want to learn to surf" and "I want to learn to speak Spanish". But when I think about my own experience, I realize that learning can be painful and disruptive and embarrassing enough to make me not want to try something in the first place. My actual goal is probably more like: "I want to surf" and "I want to speak Spanish". The learning might be what will get me there, but it's not the goal itself.
Thanks to George for the pointer.
Update: Clarence is reflecting more this topic...great stuff.